Older adults in nursing homes at risk for financial abuse

Placing your loved one in a nursing home or assisted living facility is never a simple decision. Your loved one very likely wants to remain at home, and you worry about the possibility for mistreatment in an assisted living home. It's important that you check the reputation, hiring practices and care standards of any facility you consider for a loved one.

However, even if you do your due diligence in checking the reputation of a facility, all it takes is one unscrupulous person to victimize your loved one. You may already know to watch for signs of physical, emotional and sexual abuse. What you may not realize is that a large number of seniors are also subject to financial abuse.

Financial abuse can take several forms

There are multiple different kinds of financial abuse, with some of them more obvious than others. For example, one of the better-known forms of financial abuse would involve a nursing home worker or other caregiver stealing items from the people they care for. Other times, they may take cash or write checks using the bank accounts of those entrusted to their care.

Directly stealing from someone is only one kind of financial abuse. Other people are more subtle in their approach. A caregiver or even a pastor, anyone with regular access to the elderly, could abuse their position in the hope of benefiting financially.

They may share sad stories about their personal history or create financial dilemmas that they claim to need help with. The aging people in their care may feel sympathy for them and offer to help. In some cases, this can lead people to voluntarily write checks or give cash to people who should not be asking for it.

Other times, this approach can lead someone to adjust their last will or a state plan to include a caregiver. The senior citizen being abused believes he or she is doing the right thing. However, that kindness and good-natured spirit allows someone less ethical to manipulate and extort the elderly.

Take your loved one seriously if they complain of financial abuse

Make sure you stay engaged with your loved one's daily life. Regular visits and engagement can help ensure that you will hear about anyone attempting to groom your loved one into leaving them money. Staying in close contact will also help ensure that your loved one will feel comfortable reporting any abuse to you if they experience it.

According to the National Adult Protective Services Association, as many as one in 20 seniors believe they have recently experienced some form of financial abuse. If your loved one has a story about a caretaker extorting them or stealing from them, listen to that story and follow up on it.

You trust nursing home facilities with the safety and well-being of your loved ones in their last years. When those facilities hire people who use positions for their personal benefit, you may have the right to seek compensation for the losses your loved ones suffered at the facility. Educating yourself more about the situation and your rights is a good first step if you suspect financial abuse of your aging parent or loved one.

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